Shaun Marsh's efforts on the fifth day ensured Australia held on for a draw in the third Test against India in Ranchi.
Shaun Marsh's efforts on the fifth day ensured Australia held on for a draw in the third Test against India in Ranchi. Aijaz Rahi/AP

Marsh rated 'special player' after Ranchi heroics

CRICKET: Ranchi game-saver Shaun Marsh has been hailed the tough man of the Australian dressing room.

Peter Handscomb might have been the joint hero in pushing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to a thrilling finale, but there was something about Marsh's back-to-the-wall performance that made him stand out as the fairytale story of the memorable four-hour partnership.

Marsh has been in and out of the Australian side since his debut in 2011, with injury and a failure to nail down opportunities combining equally to make him a much-derided figure among the cricketing public.

Even for this tour of India, his selection ahead of run-making machine Usman Khawaja raised eyebrows among some in the game.

The perception of Marsh would suggest he wouldn't be the man for a pressure-cooker situation but his teammates take a much different view.

Vice-captain David Warner has opened up about the belief Australian players have in Marsh's abilities and mental strength.

"That's people's opinion," Warner said of the Marsh stereotypes.

"From where I stand as a player and a vice-captain we always know he's got the talent. He's a special player for us.

"He's missed opportunities through injury and coming through he might not have been putting the numbers on the board straight away.

"It's always a hard time for that person to go back and get fit and come back and not get any runs.

"The way he's come back and fought hard and scored the hundred in Sri Lanka and come out and played the way he has is credit to him. He's one of our toughest players in this team and nothing is ever going to knock SOS (Marsh) down."

The question now will be whether Marsh can lock down a permanent spot in the Australian middle-order, even when the circuit returns to the Gabba in November for the Ashes summer.

Glenn Maxwell also enjoyed a breakout performance in drawn third Test in Ranchi and will be pushing for permanent inclusion in the XI.

In different ways Warner and captain Steve Smith have had to completely revamp the perceptions held by the cricketing hierarchy.

For Warner it was his new-found maturity, for Smith it was going from leg-spinner to top-order batsman.

Maxwell is in a similar boat where he has always battled with the view that he is a white ball specialist, and more recently that he wasn't fitting in with the disciplined culture of the Australian dressing room.

Warner believes Maxwell can follow the example set by he and Smith.

"The hundred he scored was fantastic and phenomenal and a great boost for him," Warner said.

"I think you look at the Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last year, when he scored the hundred there, I think (the penny has dropped) in his head that he knows he's got the capacity to do that and take games away from teams.

"To come out here and fight like he did and bat time, it should say to him he can play this format. And looking forward and into the future, hopefully he can keep playing for a long time."

News Corp Australia


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